Grand Chamber

Judicial formation of the Grand Chamber

The Grand Chamber comprises 17 judges, including the President of the Court, the Vice-Presidents, the Presidents of the Sections and the national judge; the remaining judges are designated by drawing lots.

It examines the cases that are submitted to it either after a Chamber has relinquished jurisdiction or when a request for referral of the case has been granted by the Grand Chamber Panel.

It also has jurisdiction to deal with requests for advisory opinions.

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Role of the Grand Chamber

No application is ever sent directly to the Grand Chamber, but a Chamber may relinquish jurisdiction to it or a case may be referred to it by one of the parties; this happens at a more advanced stage in the procedure. In both cases, examination by the Grand Chamber is the exception to the rule.

  • Relinquishment

Where the case raises a serious question affecting the interpretation of the Convention or there is a risk of inconsistency with a previous decision of the Court, the Chamber to which the case was allocated may relinquish jurisdiction in favour of the Grand Chamber.

  • Referral

Within three months of delivery of the Chamber judgment the parties may request the referral of the case to the Grand Chamber. A panel of judges decides whether or not the case should be referred to the Grand Chamber for fresh examination.

The Grand Chamber also has jurisdiction to give advisory opinions pursuant to Protocol No. 16, Article 47 of the Convention or Article 29 of the Convention on Human Rights and Biomedicine, also known as the “Oviedo Convention”. When the Court receives a request for an advisory opinion, it falls to the Grand Chamber to examine it.

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Third-party intervention before the Grand Chamber

Before the Grand Chamber, as before the Chamber, the President of the Court may give permission to persons (other than the applicant), NGOs or States other than that against which the application has been lodged to intervene in the procedure. These are known as third-party interveners. The relevant persons, NGOs or States may submit written comments and if appropriate take part in the public hearing on the authorisation of the Court’s President.

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Grand Chamber Panel

The panel of the Grand Chamber, made up of five judges, decides on the referral requests made under Article 43 of the Convention. As to requests for advisory opinions, it examines whether the conditions of admissibility are met.

 Practice of the Grand Chamber Panel